JANUARY 31, 2023 – Marines and Sailors from II Marine Expeditionary Force, led by Col. Ryan Hoyle, commanding officer of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in Naples, Italy as the third iteration of II MEF’s support to Task Force 61 Naval Amphibious Force Europe, Jan. 23.
Established in March 2022 as Task Force 61/2 with then-Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan as its commanding general, TF-61 continues to align multiple existing forces under the Naval Amphibious Force commander; deployed amphibious ready groups, Marine expeditionary units, Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company Europe, and other II MEF units that support the Fleet Commander’s requirements.
The Task Force has overseen a wide range of integrated operations, from port visits and exercises to contingency planning and enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness, and will continue to fill this role for Sixth Fleet.
“Being able to deploy, work with, and ultimately learn from U.S. Sixth Fleet staff is an incredible opportunity.” SSgt. Cody Stewart, 24th MEU MAGTF planner specialist
“Task Force 61 continues our history of being an integrated Blue-Green team with the Navy,” said Hoyle. “Our responsibility is to command and control credible and capable Naval forces in support of the U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander’s Maritime Campaign, NATO allies, and our partners.”
Beyond command-and-control synchronization within the fleet, the task force operationalizes Marine Corps multi-domain capabilities. The units assigned to TF-61 are executing Stand-in Forces to generate small, highly versatile units that integrate Marine Corps and Navy forces.
TF-61 continues to demonstrate II MEF’s support to a fleet or joint commander while operationalizing integrated concepts and capabilities. TF-61 Marines are a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness capable of supporting the fleet commanders’ operations.
“Being able to deploy, work with, and ultimately learn from U.S. Sixth Fleet staff is an incredible opportunity,” said SSgt. Cody Stewart, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner specialist with the 24th MEU. “As a Marine attached to a MEU, I will deploy on a Navy ship in the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s area of operations. I’m thankful to be able to experience Naval Integration at the fleet level and to learn their expectations before deploying as an amphibious readiness group.”
TF-61, headquartered in Naples, Italy is a highly flexible and dynamic task force, capable of enhancing the fleet’s maritime domain awareness, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability throughout Europe and Africa.
By Capt. MacKenzie Margroum
Marine Corps Forces Europe